cir·​cum·​vent | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈvent How to pronounce circumvent (audio) \
circumvented; circumventing; circumvents

Definition of circumvent

transitive verb

1 : to manage to get around especially by ingenuity or stratagem the setup circumvented the red tape— Lynne McTaggart circumvent a problem
2a : to hem in Circumvented by the enemy, he had to surrender.
b : to make a circuit around the river circumvented

Other Words from circumvent

circumvention \ ˌsər-​kəm-​ˈven(t)-​shən How to pronounce circumvent (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for circumvent



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The Circular History of Circumvent

If you've ever felt as if someone was circling around the rules, you have an idea of the origins of circumvent—it derives from the Latin circum, meaning "circle," and ventus, the past participle of the Latin verb venire, meaning "to come." The earliest uses of circumvent referred to a tactic of hunting or warfare in which the quarry or enemy was encircled and captured. Today, however, circumvent more often suggests avoidance than entrapment; it typically means to "get around" someone or something.

Examples of circumvent in a Sentence

Los Angeles was the beachhead for the sushi invasion, attracting many Japanese chefs eager to make their fortunes and to circumvent the grueling 10-year apprenticeship required in their homeland. — Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review, 10 June 2007 … Rondon and Lyra paddled to the right side, where they found a channel that circumvented the worst part of the rapids. — Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, 2005 His appreciation of this finer side of life is circumvented by a cynicism that he tells me is common to Eastern Europeans. — Lynne Tillman, Motion Sickness, 1991 The thirty-six-hour workweek established by the garment-industry code was circumvented by having the workers punch out at five P.M., leave by the back door (their usual entrance), then return by the front door and work until eleven P.M. without punching the clock. — Melissa Hield, Speaking For Ourselves, (1977) 1984 We circumvented the problem by using a different program. He found a way to circumvent the law. See More
Recent Examples on the Web That low data cap means Edge's VPN won't replace a subscription to a VPN service for people who run all of their traffic through VPNs or those who use them to circumvent geographical restrictions on video streaming. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 2 May 2022 In Massachusetts, state health officials created a phone number, which patients can use to circumvent the delays in the primary-care system. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 25 Apr. 2022 Armstrong's comments came as U.S. lawmakers expressed concern that the Russian government will use cryptocurrency to circumvent economic sanctions targeting a slew of Russian financial institutions, including its Central Bank. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, 7 Mar. 2022 For decades, the industry has profited from a loophole that allows fashion companies to circumvent their responsibility in wage theft claims by subcontracting manufacturers. Frances Solá-santiago,, 17 Jan. 2022 For example, some industries might be exempted, allowing some companies to circumvent the new tax. Mark Maurer, WSJ, 12 July 2021 Hogan used his state of emergency declaration to circumvent county liquor boards. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 25 June 2021 And it’s certainly not one suited for the era of cell phones and text messages or to a President well known for his efforts to circumvent official channels of communications. Ryan Nobles, CNN, 31 Mar. 2022 The move is an attempt to circumvent Western sanctions that have resulted in multiple countries, including the United States, closing their airspace to Russian airliners. Fox News, 15 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circumvent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of circumvent

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for circumvent

Latin circumventus, past participle of circumvenire, from circum- + venire to come — more at come

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Time Traveler for circumvent

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The first known use of circumvent was in 1539

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Circumvent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for circumvent


cir·​cum·​vent | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈvent How to pronounce circumvent (audio) \
circumvented; circumventing

Kids Definition of circumvent

: to avoid the force or effect of by cleverness They tried to circumvent the rules.

More from Merriam-Webster on circumvent

Nglish: Translation of circumvent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of circumvent for Arabic Speakers


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